I noticed there’s been another minor blog explosion over at Rorate-Caeli and on Christian Campbell’s new blog Eccentric Bliss about the Ordinary Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson apparently telling a priest of the Ordinariate to no longer celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) on Ordinariate property.
Here’s a snippet from Rorate-Caeli, then a bit from some familiar names in the comments section.
Come to think of it, no, I’m not going to quote anything but the title. If you want to read it go on over yourself. Here’s the title:
Are we talking about the same Ordinariate, folks? The Mass Msgr. Steenson celebrated here in Ottawa was Book of Divine Worship with Canadian Book of Common Prayer substituted for the places where the BDW plunks in the 1979 American prayer book prayers. And the Old English translation of the Roman Canon. Pretty traditional. Not too much different from what we were doing before we became Catholic. The scene up here in Canada is nothing like what is being described in the United States. Not being in the States I am not in a great position to judge, but I suspect there are many folks who are happily going about their business and supporting the Ordinary and the Ordinariate but not commenting on blogs.
Here some stuff from the comments section:
To be fair, most former Anglicans I have met are very orthodox and have a greater appreciation of how important it is to be in union with the Holy Father on Faith, Morals and Church discipline than many cradle Catholics.
“It seems AC was just another attempt to contain and then smother real Tradition.”
The Holy Father is not a traditionalist, but I think what evidence we have is that this was not his intention at all.
But it’s also clear that some senior prelates have different ideas. They range from indifferent to hostile to the Ordinariates (especially in England). And some are extremely hostile to Tradition. But that’s no surprise to any of us.
The Ordinariate parishes themselves cover a broad spectrum. In a few, only the novus ordo is celebrated, which I find perplexing – what’s the point, really? In others, like Mount Calvary in Baltimore, the English Missal is used, and the TLM has been regularly celebrated. It’s a diverse community. But on the whole, a much more traditionally-minded one than prevails in the typical diocesan parish.
I remain confident that this new dictum won’t last, and that the Ordinariates will become a welcome place for Catholic Tradition. To me this looks like a desperate rearguard action by the current Cardinal Archbishop of Washington.
I hope readers of this blog will not paint all Anglican converts with the same brush. Most of us understand that the TLM is very much part of our patrimony, whether or not it is celebrated in our parishes.
My own conversion and entrance into full Catholic communion took place nearly thirty years ago, and the overwhelming impetus for me was in the consideration of moral issues (abortion, artificial contraception, euthanasia, etc.). Moral truth is what led me to the full treasure of the Catholic faith.
When our parish was established a little over twenty-nine years ago, it was the first of the “Anglican Use” parishes. Although we would like to be part of the Ordinariate in this country, we will be waiting until it is more closely conformed to Pope Benedict’s vision. Speaking for myself, I’m not interested in returning to a form of Episcopalianism, even if it is in communion with the Holy See.
The American Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter is just one of three ordinariates in existence. The first one Our Lady of Walsingham in England allows the EF and while the second one Our Lady of the Southern Cross allows it too according to Summorum Pontificum. The Tridentine Mass is really not part of the Anglican patrimony it being standardized at the Council of Trent. By then the Church of England was separate from Rome. The Sarum Use has more bearing on the Anglican rites than the Tridentine one.
However the Tridentine Mass has definitely influenced Anglican spirituality to the extent that some High churchmen celebrated the BCP Communion service with Tridentine ceremonial. Also with some Anglicans celebrating according to the English Missal, we can conclude that the Tridentine Mass has a place in Anglicanism.
If the Rt Rev Msgr Steenson does not recognize this then his Ordinariate is less than Catholic and even less Anglican!
Ouch, Fr. Phillips! Ouch, Ben Vallejo!
The Ordinary seems a thorough Modernist and is an avowed enemy of Catholic Tradition. While the Rorate Cæli post suggests that Cardinal Wuerl is pulling the strings, I am certain that the Ordinary need not have been unduly pressured to adopt the same positions. After all, it should not be forgotten that Monsignor Steenson is on record as saying that it was only possible for him to become Catholic because of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council!
Gee, I don’t know where to begin to unpack this. I have no idea if the Ordinary is a “thorough Modernist” or not. But then, because I embrace the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and believe there was a need for reform, I guess I would be classified as a modernist, too. Whatever. I am not crazy about what happened in the wake of the Council—the wreckovations, the hasty dynamic equivalent translation of the English Missal, a misunderstanding in application of what the Council fathers meant by the role of the laity as the People of God, and other liberalizing trends run amok. But that was more the result of a faulty interpretation of the Council, the teachings of which are still being worked out. For the good of the Church.
But then if you notice some of the folks on the traditionalist blogs, they call Pope Benedict XVI a modernist and so on. So I’m in good company I guess.
Msgr. Steenson and I were both at the plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) in Sainte-Adele, Quebec this morning and spoke with him briefly around noon as we were both checking out of Mont-Gabriel Hotel to head to our respective homes.
I don’t detect antipathy towards the Traditional Latin Mass in him. I could say more but I won’t because it was not an interview situation where he knew he would be on the record.
There is a way to be pro the Traditional Latin Mass and still be positive in one’s attitude towards the Second Vatican Council, unless one is part of the Society of St. Pius X. We have a TLM parish in Ottawa that is very friendly to us and vice versa. We are also friendly with the charismatic Companions of the Cross who are ministering to us now. They are wonderful. They love our liturgy. We love their passion for the Lord. I see the fruit of Anglicanorum coetibus, the sharing of gifts the Holy Father had in mind, every Sunday while Companions priests minister to us.
Whether Msgr. Steenson is right or justified in light of Summorum Pontificum, I will leave to the scholars and canon lawyers. But I think it would be wise for new Ordinariate priests to obey even if it stings, and set a tone of harmony and singing from the same song sheet. There are times and places to make one’s case to those in charge and it is not all the time, anywhere, on blogs, until one gets one’s way or breaks off in frustration, to go do one’s own thing.
I’m not saying this is the case with the priest and I don’t know enough about that situation to comment. I am speaking about new habits of mind and discipline to help get the Ordinariate off the ground. Especially now it cannot be like herding cats or we will start living up to the labels so many journalists have affixed on us as “disgruntled” or “disaffected” “traditionalists” who can never find anything pure enough for them.
And I am not comfortable with some of the elevation of the TLM as if it were frozen in amber as the perfect liturgy of all time.
Though, I wasn’t Catholic when I was growing up most of my friends were and I remember the pre-Vatican II days. It was no golden age, folks, full of pious people who experienced transcendent awe when they went to Mass and had halos around their heads as they raised their many children (though there were a lot of big families in our neighborhood). No, usually Father tried to rattle it off as fast as he could. Someone was telling me about a priest he knew who could do the whole TLM in 12 minutes, saying it so fast the altar boys couldn’t even find where to make their responses. I remember superstition, gum-chewing, and a highly legalistic view of God and sin. They could answer the questions “Who made you?” etc. but did they really know Jesus Christ? Yes, I’m a Personalist. There’s a big difference between being able to state articles of the faith with precision as if the faith were formula and not a relationship with God the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.
As for whether the Ordinariate is becoming an Episcopalian-flavored Ordinariate circa 1990, minus the women priests as Christian Campbell goes on to say, riffing off Fr. Phillips comment at Rorate-Caeli, again, are we talking about the same Ordinariate?
The Ordinariates are still very, very young. I reject these pessimistic doom and gloom pictures or calling them a failure. That’s not to say there have not been problems in the run-up and implementation but I say wait and see.
As for Msgr. Steenson, I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with him, though limited, at the plenary. He’s been exceptionally good to us up here in Canada in many ways. If I thought he were bent on Episcopalianizing the Ordinariate circa 1990 I would be mega distressed. But that’s not our experience of him. It’s the opposite, in fact. He’s been great to us.
So, blog readers. Let’s not jump to conclusions or make premature judgments.